Olympic torchbearer head to bow out after 25 years

Mark Chesterton, headteacher of Larkrise Primary School, Oxford, who is retiring after 25 years

Mark Chesterton, headteacher of Larkrise Primary School, Oxford, who is retiring after 25 years

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

THOUSANDS of pupils have passed through his school gates but around Easter Mark Chesterton will host his last assembly.

After 25 years at the helm of Larkrise Primary School, Mr Chesterton is retiring on Friday, April 4.

He started at the school in 1988, and estimates that at least 2,000 pupils have been educated at the Boundary Brook Road site during his time there.

Now he is looking forward to improving his photography and seeing the world.

Mr Chesterton, 64, who lives in East Oxford, said he has seen many changes in education, starting as a teacher in 1972 in Reading, before moving to primary schools in Wantage, Abingdon and Southmoor.

He said: “When I started the biggest change was what was called the local financial management of schools, which essentially gave headteachers the responsibility over their budget.

“There have been all sorts of different initiatives over the years but I suppose the big change was when we went to a two-tier system, and also the political interference in the education.

“I have strived all my time to remember that education is all about teaching the whole child.

“It is important they do well in tests and reach appropriate levels, but it is also important that they develop as individuals and develop self-esteem and confidence.

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“Schools, whether academies, free schools or not, should be completely devoted to education.”

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  • Mr Chesterton carried an Olympic torch in 2012

The father-of-two was an Olympic torchbearer in 2012 and passed the torch to rower Steve Redgrave as it passed through Henley on Thames where Mr Chesterton grew up.

He added: “The atmosphere is one of support and it is one where children feel valued and cared for, the parents feel supported and we work for the benefit of all children.

“It makes me so proud when the children are out of the school on trips and we are constantly praised as to how well behaved they are.”

The school helps run the Larkrise Education Centre in Uganda where it helps train teachers and creates a link between the East Oxford school and the Jinja SDA Primary School.

Mr Chesterton will continue to build on these links and added: “It will be nice to have all this time ahead of me.

“I already try and travel to places like Africa, South America and India each Easter holiday, but now I will be able to stay for much longer.”

He will be succeeded by deputy head Debbie Fearnley.

On Mr Chesterton’s last day, the school will hold its 41st annual Larkrise Easter hat parade around Boundary Brook estate and Iffley Road on the morning of April 4.

Former pupils and parents are welcome to visit the school between 2pm to 2.30pm on the day.

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